The US government moved to tighten sanctions on Chinese telecoms vendors, with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) planning a public consultation on creating a list of communications equipment deemed to pose a national security threat.

In a statement, the agency explained it is seeking “public comment on implementing various aspects of the Secure Networks Act”, which was enacted in March and previously involved a block on operators using funding from the $8.3 billion federal Universal Service Fund (USF) to purchase equipment or services from companies identified as a danger.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said it was taking “additional steps to protect America’s communications networks from national security threats”, explaining the action is necessary because Huawei and ZTE have close ties to the Chinese Communist Party and China’s military, and are broadly subject to Chinese law obliging them to cooperate with the country’s intelligence services.

The FCC took the first steps toward implementing the Act in November 2019, when it “unanimously adopted” the USF ban, Pai explained. It now proposes the next enactment steps by banning the use of federal subsidies for any communications equipment or services placed on the list; requiring CSPs to report if they use any of the kit; and preventing abuse of any funds allocated to cover the cost of replacing current equipment.

Last month, the regulator confirmed a previous assessment Huawei and ZTE were security threats.